Graham, R-S.C., wrote that holding an impeachment trial for Trump after he has left office would be “as unwise as it is unconstitutional” while the Senate awaits the House’s article of impeachment charging Trump with inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The Senate’s attempt to disqualify a president from future office who is no longer in office, would be an unconstitutional act of political vengeance, not a righteous constitutional act to protect the nation by removal of an incumbent president,” he wrote. “Such a gratuitous, meaningless effort by the Senate of the United States is neither worthy of our great institution, nor a service to the nation and the American people. It will incite further division.”
Graham’s letter comes after Trump became the first president to be impeached twice after the House voted 232-197 in favor of approving the article of impeachment, including support from 10 Republicans.In his letter, Graham cited that the Constitution includes two remedies for impeachment: removal and disqualification. He stated it was not in the framer’s intention to allow a former president to be disqualified from running via impeachment after leaving office.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead impeachment manager, acknowledged the language of the Constitution in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday but said the severity of the charge against Trump warrants a trial.
“I don’t think anybody would seriously argue that we should establish a precedent where every president on the way out the door has two weeks or three weeks or four weeks to try to incite an armed insurrection against the union or organize a coup against the union and, if it succeeds, he becomes a dictator and, if it fails, he’s not subject to impeachment or conviction because we just want to let bygones be bygones,” Raskin said.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, one of the House impeachment managers set to argue the case in the Senate said he doesn’t believe the pursuit of a conviction against Trump is unconstitutional as it is important to ensure he is disqualified from running for office.
“The reason for that is that somebody who incited a riot, an attempted coup of the United States government should not be president again,” Castro told ABC News’ “This Week.” “So it’s not just about making sure that there are consequences to his behavior. Certainly, it’s that, but even after he’s left office, it’s also making sure that he can’t run for president again.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said there is “no chance that a fair or serious” impeachment trial could conclude before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday, as he declined to reconvene the Senate to begin the process, despite Schumer calling for an emergency session.